Being asked to give a eulogy can be a daunting occasion to rise to for a countless number of possible reasons. Giving a eulogy for those that meant the most to us means trying to come to terms with our loss enough in order to even be coherent and to also fulfill our deep need to do them justice. We may also be asked to give a eulogy for someone that we may have had a difficult relationship with, or perhaps even for someone that we did not know that well. Or we may even be so moved by what this person has meant in our lives, or perhaps by someone who loved them, that we offer to give a eulogy.

1. Recognize that being emotional about the loss is it's own form of tribute.

There can be a lot of conflicting needs in the aftermath of a major loss and negotiating them can sometimes feel like trying to pick your way across raging rapids. If this is a loss that is deeply felt by you, you may feel that you have a responsibility to "hold it together" for family and friends, especially when there are children involved, and you may have some family and friends who are so uncomfortable being around emotional people that you may also be pressured to be less emotional.

Being emotional after the death of someone important in your life is really only acknowledging that they mattered. Some of the people around you may not recognize that being upset doesn't necessarily mean that you're not OK, and I would lovingly encourage you to just make THAT OK and to recognize that your range of emotions is simply another way to express that the person you've lost from your life mattered to you.

2. Speak to whoever is conducting the service as soon as you can.

They'll have important information about how your eulogy will fit into the overall service and will be able to put a lot of your questions and concerns to rest. Also talk to them about what they'll be saying at the service. It may inspire you to speak along a similar line, or perhaps you may feel that you want to counter balance what they're saying instead, or even simply add to it.

3. Decide what you want to accomplish in your eulogy.

You can achieve several purposes in giving a eulogy, but you're going to want to focus on one main one. What would be most important for you to accomplish in giving the eulogy? Would it be to offer comfort and solace to those who are also grieving? Would it be to remind family and friends about how lucky you all were to have this person in your life for as long as you did, and why? Would it be to celebrate the laughter and joy they brought and perhaps share some of your favorite, and perhaps most amusing, anecdotes? Would it be to help people come to terms with the loss of someone who may have been difficult or the source of pain and conflict in the family? Or would it be to remind people about how precious life is and to encourage people to live their life to the fullest?

Once you've gotten clear about that, then you want to...

4. Decide what kind of eulogy you're going to give.

How are you going to achieve your purpose in speaking about this person? Are you going to share stories or anecdotes from their life? Review their accomplishments? Talk about the impact they've had on the world? The lives they've touched? Their unique gifts and abilities? Share a poem or song that really speaks about this person and what they've meant? Offer an honest but compassionate perspective? Talk about the meaning of this person's life and their death in your own life? Ask people to stand up and share, too?

This stage of giving a eulogy is a wonderful opportunity to give yourself the time and space to be alone and to ponder these questions and kind of step back and take a look at the big picture of what this person's life has meant.

5. Use notes or an outline.

Develop notes or an outline for use during the eulogy and make sure that they include your important points. You can either use them during the eulogy, or take a moment and pause at the end to look them over to reassure yourself that you didn't miss any of the points you felt were important to make. If you did, go back and make them!

6. Practice.

I know it might seem a little weird to suggest practicing a eulogy, but for most people it's simply too important of an occasion to suffer missing the mark. Walking away from the podium after giving a eulogy feeling like you didn't get the job done is something that tends to stay with people - often for life. Practice it until you're ready for someone you trust to hear it and then practice it in front of them. Ask them for feedback. Their feedback can be valuable and it's certainly part of the whole point of asking them to listen, but ultimately trust yourself in how you use their feedback.

7. Be flexible.

Part of the whole point of preparation is to give ease and comfort to the delivery of the eulogy and to make sure that you walk away from the podium without regrets. As you're speaking something new may come up that feels important to you to share: let it. The preparation isn't about a regimen or being rigid - it's a structure that works best when flexed.

You may also end up dealing with a whole range of issues that simply can't be anticipated. Coping with grief is incredibly individual and there may be one or more people at the service who's grief and pain could be disruptive to the service at any given moment in time; screaming, fainting, throwing themselves on the casket... It's all been done, and it will be again, and it might even be done while you're giving the eulogy.

Whatever your tolerance level for drama is I lovingly encourage you to be flexible about it and if something occurs as you're speaking, make it OK. There's no rule that the path of any funeral or memorial service has to be straight and narrow and there's absolutely no reason why the service can't accommodate everyone, no matter how extreme their expression of grief may be.

There are a variety of ways to respond, and just be aware that you always have choices. If you need to you can simply pause your eulogy at any given moment in time.

8. Be transparent.

There's incredible freedom in simply celebrating your own humanity and transparently revealing what's going on for you. What we can clearly express about our feelings has a tendency to disappear and move out of our way.

So feel free to openly share your concerns and fears with the people gathered there. Are you worried that something you're planning on saying will hurt someone's feelings? Say so. Are you afraid that you're going to break down sobbing during your eulogy? Acknowledge it, and let people know that if you do you're going to simply give yourself the time you need to cry before collecting yourself and going on with it. It's simply the art of intimacy at work, and what better way to invite people into your world, and into your shoes?

9. Be prepared.

Some items that you are going to want to have handy while giving the eulogy could include things like tissues, cough drops and hot tea or a glass of water. What can you anticipate your other needs might be while giving the eulogy?

10. Recognize that no eulogy is adequate for those we love most.

As powerful as words are there really are no words to express the measure of a person's life - not truly. In speaking at my sister Paige's funeral this WAS my purpose in speaking.

The only real monument we have to the people we love who have died and gone before us is the quality of our own lives and of the lives we touch. My own life is filled with miracles that occur every day and I am living proof of the power of this woman's life - and it's my job to spend every day making her memorial just that much larger. The invitation I offered the people attending her funeral was for them to join me in allowing ourselves to be changed by this woman's life and by her untimely death and THAT would be her real eulogy - our willingness to become better friends, more thoughtful partners, more loving parents - better human beings - simply because of her.

Author's Bio: 

Tracy Phaup is the founder and President of the Tracy Phaup Group, a consulting group specializing in custom consulting services for Internet marketers, Professional Bloggers, and Infopreneurs. Affectionately known as the Social Media Marketing Maven, her specialty is relationship marketing. Share her expertise  in developing relationships that rock!